elemental empathy

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Daylight Saving is no more. We woke up as our bio-clocks whispered, regardless. I don’t ‘hate’ daylight saving and the changes as much as some do, I just take it as part of the roller coaster wonder-ride that is life.

And that is…

My head is still wanting to explode, my lower limbs still screaming, the new additional thematic wriggle to the raging two day epic Silent Cacophony are several large mouth ulcers pounding away. We had a rough night, the wind howled and rattled the atmosphere, Lucy tossed and turned, I could hear her tummy rumbling, she cuddled close all night, leaning into me each time she got up and settled back down (which is unlike her because we both don’t like cuddling when sleeping). I rubbed her tummy. We got up, it was still very dark, but we did enjoy a calm morning walk, despite the heavy soggy air – at least it isn’t raining anymore. Micturitions and excretions all completed, we trotted home to the rhythmic chant (by me), “Hungry, hungry hippos, we’re hungry, hungry hippos!”

Then, just as I was about to tuck into my sammich, Lucy threw up her breakfast onto the shag rug. I don’t mind at all, the shag rug, that is. I am concerned about Lucy, though. Lucy is more important to me than any material thing, or person, actually. She stared at me, laying by me, as I vigorously cleaned the patch. I reassured her she was still mumma’s good girl, but she looked unsettled.

Finished cleaning, put the baby girl back into bed, and wearing her Ruf Ruf Comfort Coat​, she is now asleep.

This unkind symphonic poem that has lasted two days now is not to be confused with Seasonal Affective Disorder. My mood is not directly affected but rather the hyper senses are under concentrated, focused assault by the humidity (as they are when triggered by various other sensory stimuli). I am not depressed by the weather. I will, however, become frustrated, and gradually maybe sink into depression, because of the physical sensory pain that does not abate, and medication is minimally effective to alleviate.

I found solace once again with my Angel, and inside my solitary realm, working on my eclectic mental fascinations. Sitting on soft large cushions (a gift from my sweet friend, Shane), I worked on my ‘granny crochet’, experimenting with ideas for my upcoming exhibition. The repetitive rhythmic patterns, to me, are like sonic and proprioceptive Theme and Variations, ever evolving, yet having an anchor and structure. I delight, too, in the visual development, watching the transformation of yarn into myriad new physical embellishments. My Lucy cuddles next to me, without being intrusive. She is gentle and elegant, she does not plant herself upon me, unlike other dogs when they show affection. Her eyes gaze at me, I have no idea what she is thinking, I lack that extra sensory empathy, but the beauty of that gaze resonates a symbiotic energy to me, spurring me on and inspiring grace and tranquil satisfaction. Her head rubs against me, sometimes she places a paw on me, she seems to know exactly how much corporeal, somatic touch I enjoy. Ultimately, Lucy has helped me survive and even find a measure of exultation, that deep intake of glorious breath of the soul, despite and within the sensory onslaught. This is NOT “de-sensitisation,” it is what I call re-sensitisation. It does not subtract, dull, try to annihilate or break the acute sensory spirit, it merely re-focuses the sensations to concentrate on the ecstasy and not the agony.

Perhaps ABA and other techniques devised to ‘help’ autistic individuals (and people with other invisible difficulties) ought to learn from the very people they purport to be supporting?

Synergetic elemental empathy is beautiful but also ugly and painful. How do I explain it? How does an autistic person explain this dimension? It is hard. Without sounding ridiculous to the unaffected, or ‘precious’ (as I used to be mockingly called).

If you are interested, here is a glimpse from Amanda Baggs.

“But you can’t be the same as her, you behave nothing like her!” I have been told countless times. As if I need someone else, the Other, to tell me who and what I really am inside, the Self. No, I am not “the same” as Amanda or any other autistic person, just as nobody is “the same” as anyone else. A concept that people don’t seem to be able to grasp. Diversity within similarity. “You can’t be autistic, you don’t behave at all like Temple Grandin!” The Colonial Power tells the Subaltern.

What is not evident in my highly refined performative Public Self is the silent realm of elemental empathy, the sensorial sympathetic resonance with concrete animate and inanimate embodiments. Not many Aspies are themselves even aware of this inner dimension – perhaps they, like me, have been so pressured to ‘perform the normal’ that they have been de-sensitised to this part of Self, and hence become forever locked into a no-Self-no-Other land of purgatory limbo? (I shall not go into that here, it can fill a thesis.) It is the so-called and much maligned ‘non-verbal, lower functioning’ in our spectrum that are ironically far more aware of this wonderment.

Being very close to materiality is a rich tapestry of existential pleasure and pain. Navigating this is what I have struggled all my life to do. I have the ability to speak about it, but in doing so, my ability to sense it and be overwhelmed by it is so much reduced. The profundity of this realisation has opened my perception to a new and deeper paradigm. Perhaps, just perhaps, still being human as we are, we can find a way to navigate and explore this together, us all – in the autism spectrum and outside – sharing our differences and similarities, and connecting via the cogency of elemental empathy?

4 thoughts on “elemental empathy

  1. I watched Amanda Biggs yesterday… I need to watch it again and again to try to understand the words – words seldom tell the whole story.
    I watched several other videos on YouTube after hers too… so much to read and think about!

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